Full Transcript: Coach Rod's Monday Presser

Coach Rod on injuries, on key plays in the Purdue game, on Tate, on JB Fitzgerald, on the defense, and on Wisconsin.

First, injuries:

"Brandon Minor has a little bit of a shoulder bruise. He still has a problem with his ankle. Junior Hemingway has some back issues, which limited him a little bit in it game Saturday. He didn't play as much. Hopefully he'll fight through that. Tay Odoms is still day-to-day, not progressing like we would think. I don't think we have anything new yet from it."

"Perry [Dorrestein] should be better. It bothered him last week. We're hoping he'll be better today."

Q: on Minor's ankle: is it worse than before:

"I don't know ? just a nagging thing. Last week I said we knew he was going to be able to play a little bit because it was a good week. Today, won't know more about his ability until tomorrow's practice."

Q: was Carlos Brown hurt or is Minor just ahead of him:

"It was a little bit of both. It was more because Carlos missed all week with the tendonitis in his knee. He wasn't sure how ready he was to go. Then the other part was Brandon was running pretty well."

Q: how much better are they with Minor?

"I think we are a better offensive team, for sure. He's got the ability to break tackles, he runs downhill. You don't get a lot of negative yardage plays with Brandon because he's such a strong guy running downhill.

Q: how did Partrick Omameh do in his first start at right guard?

"Patrick did okay for his first start. There are a lot of technical things young guys can get better with. But he really played hard. He's a physical guy. We thought it was pretty solid for his first start."

Q: did they take a step back on negative yardage plays?

"Not really. Offensively we felt pretty comfortable. There were a few decisions, some of the reads we'd like to have back. Tate, in particular, he was solid, and he knows it right away, as soon as the play is over, maybe we could have had a different read or different decision there.

"But offensively we felt comfortable with what we were doing. We just had a couple turnovers, the one turnover, and then a couple times we didn't finish off drives like we needed to."

Q: Players are saying everything goes well in practice but when comes to Saturday, they're forgetting what they're doing?

"That's disheartening. Again, I just talked to the coaches. When the offense goes good, it seems like we've been pretty sharp, not have a lot of MAs. The big MAs, like we did on Saturday, were in two different cases. You have man coverage, the guy takes his eyes off his man, give up a big play. Zone coverage, we come up. Those three in particular are plays that our guys know better than that.

"It's not the same guy all the time -- it's somebody different all the time. Those are things that are really hurting us defensively. We're not good enough to overcome those. That's obvious. We cannot have those big mental errors, those big misses likes that, and expect to stop anybody."

Q: on the poor second half performances the past several games:

"It's just a matter of playing better. If you go look at second halves all year from the beginning of the year to the end of year, it's just a matter of us, like I said Saturday, a matter of playing better.

"I've always said this: whether you win or lose at halftime, you have about 15 minutes, by the time everybody gets in there, five minutes together with the coaches, five or six minutes with the kids. That's it. You can make some minor adjustments here or there. That's not that much. It's more if something is drastic you have to change or personnel-wise you have to do. It's just playing better."

Q: is it conditioning?

"No. We look out of shape? I don't think so."

Q: are they still resilient like they were earlier in the year.

"It's being able to bounce back from something bad happening. We talk about that all week … just play the next play, not worry about the last play. I think part of that mental maturity. You hope by this time in the season your guys have that.

"But it's frustrating because it's not happened the last couple weeks, for sure."

Q: did the onside kick Purdue recovered go 10 yards?

"I think it did. We always warn or guys, Saturday, about leaving early. Our guy didn't leave early, but he didn't react quick enough to the ball. They executed very well. That was a phenomenal kick by the kicker. That's hard to do. Trust me, we've tried to get our guys to do it every day because it's such a weapon to do that, if you can get the high bounce right to the guy running down the sidelines, they go hit the guy. You can't fair catch it, obviously, because the ball hit the ground first.

"It was a phenomenal kick. They made the play on it. But, still, you have got to make 'em earn it after they get that. Once it hits the ground, it's live. Go take somebody out. If you're expecting it, knowing it's coming, like an on-side kick, your guy hits their guy before he hits you -- you got enough guys around the ball.

But, again, to kick it that well at that timing, all that. Maybe he could do it every time, I don't know, but that's a tough thing to defend."

Q: on the lateral from Carlos Brown – was it illegal?

"I couldn't tell in our film. I watched it. You couldn't tell if the ball was pitched forward or backward ? I would assume you would be.

"Again, I'm sure the league reviewed that, the officials reviewed that play several times. From what I could see on our game film, you couldn't tell much. Nothing you can do about it. It's time to move on anyway."

Q: is there less time at halftime than in past years?

"No, it's the same -- 20 minutes. By the time you get in the tunnel, coaches come down out of the box, there's probably five or six minutes with the staff together to talk about what happened, then, again, another five or six or seven minutes with the kids, talk to them about what's going on, any adjustments. You've got time to make some adjustments. It's not like you have a whole week to get ready. Not as much as people think. Everybody talks about halftime adjustments. Really, this is what's happening, this is what you're seeing … you kind of calm them down, then just go play."

Q: how did J.B. Fitzgerald do?

"He did okay. I don't think anybody defensively graded out in championship performance.

Q: Will he start against physical Wisconsin?

"I don't know. It really depends on how well they prepare this week in practice."

Q: is Wisconsin running back John Clay the best back they'll have faced this year?

"He's downhill … he doesn't lose yards. You've got to tackle him. He's not going to fall down. You'd better get a lot of people around him. It's hard for one guy, as big as he is, strong, fast … and you know, the O-line, tight ends, are monsters. They're huge. We're a small team anyway, defensively particularly. So that's a lot of concerns for us.

"He's the biggest, for sure. He's one of the best."

Q: on going for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter – was it a mistake?

"No. No. Again, as I said, maybe we would call another play or something. Hopefully we would execute it. But, no, I was really concerned that we weren't stopping 'em. That was my biggest concern. Normally you'd go ahead, if you knew you were going to get a three-and-out, get the ball back.

"My concern at that point was we hadn't done a really good job of stopping them."

Q: what is your overall assessment of the linebackers?

"Okay. Moments of disappointment in a lot of areas. But I think they've been playing pretty hard. But it's just like we mentioned earlier -- sometimes you can play a solid game, but one big mistake that leads to a touchdown or a big play kind of taints the whole picture, so to speak.

"So having that consistency, you're always going to make mistakes. Shoot, they're human. They're trying hard. You want to eliminate the big mistake so it doesn't cost you a touchdown or a big play.

Q: on kicker Jason Olesnavage missing the extra point:

"Those guys know what they did or didn't do wrong. The first one he missed all year. He'll be fine, I'm sure."

Q: is playing on the road a matter of making a few key plays?

"Yeah, I think it is. Just playing -- not worrying about the surroundings, not worrying about not getting the previous play. It's a little more difficult from the standpoint you have to kind of lift yourself a little bit -- you don't have your crowd behind you, that thing.

"It's not something that, as you get experience, as our guys have this year, should be daunting. I've been in Wisconsin before. It's a loud place. They get into the game. It's a great atmosphere. The whole key is just making plays. If you're not playing well, snap yourself out of a funk, move forward."

Q: What was your message to the team?

"Just to continue to play. I mean, we've got to play better. We've got to eliminate the big mistakes, as I mentioned the last couple weeks. Whether it's on offense or defense, special teams, the plays that really cost you, all the mistakes cost you, but eliminate the big, big mistakes and we're right there. Have confidence that we can pull through.

"It's a great challenge, but it also means it's a great opportunity. So we've got an opportunity to go on the road, play a ranked team that's playing very well. We can play a lot better than we have. That's the encouraging part. We know we can play better than we have. We're going to try to."

Q: has the team's resilience changed?

"No. We were down the last game. We were down at the end of the game and we didn't quit. We went down and scored a touchdown, just didn't get the two-point conversion. I think that showed a little bit of resiliency. Not as much as we had earlier in the year because we won it.

"Like I said in the last game, I was more disappointed a couple weeks ago than I was in the last game from how we played at the end of the game. I just wish we would have made one more play at the end of the game to either go to overtime or win it."

Q on the defense under Greg Robinson:

"Well, I really like the chemistry of our staff. I think the players have bought into what we're doing. But our production has not been as good defensively at times as we'd like. There are a lot of factors that go into that. I think as a coach you sit down and you look at everything when you have time. Okay, these are the reasons why we didn't do well on offense, defense or special teams. You talk about it as a staff and go forward.

"Our guys are trying as hard as they can. We've got a lot of smart coaches on defense. There's not just one reason why you don't have success on either side of the ball or on special teams. I think you have to look at every factor that you're dealing with, who you're doing it with, go forward."

Q: is the team resilient enough to get through a losing streak?

"I think so. It's a good group of guys. It's a strange dichotomy for me as a head coach because I want everybody to be ticked off when we lose, like we are, but you don't want it to linger for more than a day and a half.

"I don't think our guys are certainly happy at all when we get beat. But Monday's practice or Tuesday's practice, I want them to be able to bounce back, say, Hey, time for the next one. They've been able to do that for the most part.

"Losing wears on a lot of people. It wears on the coaches more than anybody. I know fans are frustrated, coaches are frustrated, players are frustrated. But what are you going to do? You don't have a reset button. Just got to learn from it, move on to the next one."

Q: does it all it wear on you?

"It will wear on me. I hide it pretty good. It's harder on the family probably, Rita and the kids, than anybody else, because it's just not fun when you go home after a loss. Coaches don't have a whole lot of time to spend with families anyway. You want that to be happy time.

"I think my family understands it. That's the profession we're in. We chose to get in it. The best way to feel better is to go ahead and try to win the next one."

Q: how hard it is for players to come back after a loss?

"It's their individual competitiveness that you appeal to. They handle it in their own way.

"We talk about it on Mondays, which will be the today. We talk about the last game a little bit, what we need to do to move forward. I know everybody, our fans I'm sure, want to see more wins, are frustrated. So do I. Certainly the University of Michigan is not used to this, but neither am I or my staff. We're all kind of going through this process.

"We know what we're in moving forward, know what we have to do. We can see some happier times ahead, hopefully sooner rather than later. It's not a fun process when you're going through this right now, I can assure you of that. We're not daunted by the challenge. It's just a bigger challenge than a lot of people think."

Q: on Brandon Smith's move back to safety:

"Brandon we've moved around a little bit. We tried to find a position for him. He's at safety right now, which is what we originally recruited him for. We think eventually he'll be a linebacker. I think he's bought into that fact.

"He has shown a few good things special teams-wise. It almost is like he's caught in between positions. We're trying to find his role."

Q: are any scout team players on the verge of playing?

"They've played pretty well, but not to the point where we think, Okay, this guy can go ahead and be a starter. We have some young guys. That's the part that's really encouraging. We're not scrimmaging those guys against each other, not doing a lot of live situations. We have some really young, talented offensive linemen, which is what we're going to need going forward. There are a couple guys in the secondary defensively that we have.

"It's very important for us. We've had one really full recruiting class -- last year. There will be another full recruiting class this year coming forward. We need to have another, you know, two years, three years of really good recruiting classes that fit our needs, and they pan out the way that we hope. That's the key.

"The whole key, again, is you're recruiting the right student-athletes and developing them. There's always mistakes made along the way. You want to minimize those mistakes, again, bring the type of recruiting classes in over the next few years that can help win championships.

Q: Do you care about recruiting rankings?

"No, I really don't. It's almost become a sport in itself, with fans and the Internet, people following recruiting. You've got to trust your own judgment. I said that a bunch of times in recruiting.

"Most of the recruiting services do a pretty good job. They miss quite a bit, as well. We have to be careful we don't fall into the hype that we have to recruit this guy because he's a four star or five star. The other fact, you don't recruit that guy because he's only rated a two star. I think that's the most dangerous thing -- you overlook this guy over here because he's a late-bloomer, develops late or maybe he's not as highly recruited. I think you have to trust your own judgment from what see on film, what you see in person, whether it's from camp, high school games."

Q: who has caught your eye as far as the redshirting guys?

" Justin Turner got here late. We still think he's going to be a really good player. Thomas Gordon we recruited as a safety. He can be a linebacker or a safety. Some of the young receivers like Jeremy Gallon, Cam Gordon, those guys are all going to wind up being really good players for us. I probably have a blank for some of the other guys.

"Last year's class, we haven't talked about it a lot because we haven't had time to catch our breath, but we feel pretty good about this last year's recruiting class as far as guys that fit here both athletically and academically, being the type of guys we want to go forward with."

Q: how many scholarship players are on the roster?

"I think there's 70 or 71. There's more on scholarship now. I think 70 maybe, 71. We looked back at it because some of the walk-ons are on scholarship for just a year. Some, like Mark Moundros, have been on for a couple years, and deservedly so."

Q: is it okay for players to be talking about bowl games?

"Oh, sure. I think it's okay to talk about it a little bit. I don't know if you want to belabor the fact because I'd rather them look at the first play of the game, not the last play of the game, what the consequences are. I want them just to play.

"They know there are Bowl games in sight. Whether that gives them a whole lot of motivation, I don't know. But it should give some anyway."

Q: what happens if you don't get bowl practices?

"You have spring practice. I don't think you have to rush it. But I do think what we wanted to make sure is -- I tell the players this: when they're on the scout team, that we are looking at them. The position coaches are looking at them. Even though they're looking at cards or what have you, players always know they're getting evaluated, getting seen.

"We've been doing that consciously really all season. There will be times when I think we had, during the Delaware State week, a 15, 20-minute scrimmage with some of those young guys. We have some of that on film. You can usually tell throughout the course of the season which young guys are going to be ready sooner rather than later."

Q: why hasn't Denard Robinson been playing as much?

"It was this past week. I told Denard, I wish I would have gotten you in the game more. He had a really good week of practice. We had some plans to get him in there. That was our mistake in not getting him in because in different roles, whether it was quarterback or not.

"But Tate was in a little bit of rhythm. We were moving the ball. That's usually when it's tough because it's a feel thing. But Denard has continued to progress. He has a great attitude. He said, Coach, I understand, don't worry about it, I'm with you guys all the way.

"[His one play at running back], what's disappointing about that play is they came with a different look, but we didn't block it right. Had we blocked it right, it looked like we might have had a big, big play with it, because he's such a fast guy. They had to get a little bit of a different look than what they'd seen. We missed an assignment there."

Q: has Tate Forcier been making progress?

"There have been some moments that he's progressed and some that he's regressed. But I think he had more positive moments than negative moments in the last game.

He's still very much a work in progress. He still has to learn a whole lot. Again, we all have to be patient. I told him this last week, because he's a freshman. I've got to ask you to perform and act and be older than what you are. If he's 19 years old, you have to act and play and behave like a 21- 22-year-old. That's easier said than done. He's a conscientious guy. He'll keep working at it."

Q: how do you prepare for the noise at Wisconsin?

"We'll probably do a little more crowd noise as the week goes on, later in the week, get a little more intense I should say with the crowd noise. I know they do the jump-around at the end of the third quarter. Get our guys ready for that.

"Communication is the biggest thing, not just on offense, which is a key thing -- but even if the defense is on the field, we have to communicate better.

"They really have done a great job there. Barry Alvarez is an old friend of mine. He got it all started. Bret Bielema has done a good job of taking it over, continuing that on. But Barry created quite an atmosphere there over the years. I don't know what the record is specifically, but they've been really good at home really over the last decade or so."

Q: do you talk about last year's comeback win?

"They'll be watching cutups or film of it. Listen, there's an example there of just keep playing. We played as poorly as you can play in a half, then we're still in the ballgame. We get a few breaks in the second half and win it. That's a lesson learned, hopefully."

Q: is last year's defense different from this year's?

"It's a little bit different. I think every scheme is different, with the terminology, calls. That's part of it. But a lot of it, too, I think there's six, seven, I don't know how many guys, playing for the first time. They've never been in this arena, in this situation. Whether we ran the same scheme as last year, same terminology, or new ones this year, they're going to be new running it. That's not an excuse. But that is as much as anything that these guys have to play a lot of football."

At some point it's not new anymore?

"No question. And I do think for us every year you want to recruit guys to challenge the guys you're playing with. I think in recruiting, you don't guarantee a guy will start. You do tell him, if you're recruiting him, We wouldn't be recruiting you if we didn't think you had an opportunity to challenge and play.

"If you do the right job in recruiting, if you do the right job in developing, two or three years from now we won't have as many freshmen come in or newcomers come in and have the opportunity to play. I don't think that's just here, but anywhere across the country. You're usually going to see more seniors and juniors backed up by a handful of freshmen and sophomores. There are not as many first-time starters every year. That's the way you build a program, that's the process we're in.

"Right now there are a lot of first-time guys playing. Last year there were a few. This year there are some. Next year there will be some. Two, three years from now, it shouldn't be that way."

Q: should the defensive kids be farther along after 10 games?

"Yeah, certainly you would like to think that. But every week is a little different challenge. They may have a different scheme. The Wisconsin scheme this week is completely different than we've seen in several weeks. So in a sense, maybe it is a little bit new for those guys in this type of environment."

Q: would you consider playing a team like Boise State?

"I think it's a fair question, but I think our schedule is in pretty good shape for the next couple years. Four, five years down the road, I think we're open to a lot of things.

Shoot, I'm not worried about Boise. I got enough with Wisconsin … and I haven't heard from them, no."


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